How To Write A Master's Dissertation Proposal: Basic Rules To Follow

The day you’ve been looking forward to and dreading has finally arrived: it’s time to write your master’s dissertation. The first thing you need to do is check with your department for specific guidelines. There is a general universal format for a master’s dissertation proposal but various departments may have their own guidelines they want followed.

Before you get started writing, you will have done some basic preparation work. The main preparatory job was choosing your topic. Assuming that’s been accomplished, what’s next?

Here’s the basic rules to follow when you’re ready to tackle your dissertation proposal:

Narrow down the topic

It is assumed that you’ve given careful thought to your topic before you sit down to write your proposal draft. Your proposal should present an outline of your dissertation topic, generally in 1,000 words or more. Some of the specifics that your proposal should present are:

  • a few examples of the questions you will answer with your research
  • what sort of studies you’ll be using
  • what type of data you’ll be employing
  • the sort of analysis you plan to utilize

Include the key elements

This is where you’ll need to check your department’s specific guidelines. There are several general key aspects that just about every department wants. We’ve outlined them below:

  1. Introduction: here is where you’ll state your main question. You’ll provide some background on the subject and relate it to any broader issues that are applicable.
  2. Dissertation methodology: here you’ll provide a breakdown of the sources you’re planning to use in your research. You’ll describe the type of data you’ll be collecting: qualitative or quantitative. You’ll briefly explain how you will analyze your data and whether there may be any bias in your chosen method. You may also need to explain why you’re using your chosen data gathering techniques as opposed to other methods.
  3. Aims and objectives: here you’ll describe what you hope to achieve with your research and you’ll predict your outcomes. You’ll clearly state your main objectives.
  4. Literature review: this is where you’ll list the books and other materials you used in your research. You’ll also need to include an analysis of the value of these resources to your work.
  5. Limitations of your research: when you include a clear statement of the constraints of your research, you display the depth of your understanding of your topic while acknowledging there may be broader, more complex issues relating to it.

There you have it. Once you get all of this together, you’re good to go. Time to start writing that long-awaited master’s dissertation.